Champaign County ACLU Steering Committee

Thursday, February 2, 2012

7:00 p.m.


Present: Bill Brown, Faruq Nelson, Richard Schnuer, Barbara Kessel, Diana Lenik, Carol Leff, Carol Inskeep, Carol Spindel, Esther Patt, Paul Debevec, Bob Ilyes.


  1. Minutes of the January meeting were approved.


  1. Announcements & Communications

a)      Law School Chapter & Student Chapter reports

The Law School chapter submitted a written report on upcoming activities; we agreed to try to contact the undergraduate leadership again to offer help and get an update on their current concerns.


b)      Slots still left (Thursday) for the Urbana police training w/Ondra Berry February 16th, 17th, and 18th


c)       Immigration Forum update.  Bill Brown gave an update on the January Immigration Forum session and some of the issues raised there. (The Forum launched monthly community meetings starting in December)  He favorably noted the focus and organization of the planning for next steps.  The steering committee then discussed in particular the problem raised by the Immigration Forum of immigrants in jail and their vulnerability to deportation contingent on an ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) hold. ICE holds authorize local jails to detain undocumented immigrants beyond the release date appropriate to the local offense, to allow transfer to federal immigration officials.  An additional note: The public library has English/foreign language information on immigrant rights.

d)      Hiram Paley memorial? We agreed to make a chapter contribution of $50 in his honor to the Roger Baldwin Foundation, and to bundle this with individual contributions; checks should be brought to the next (March) meeting.  His memorial service is scheduled for Saturday March 10, 3-5PM, on the fourth floor of the University of Illinois Terminal building.


  1. Old Business

a)      Master gardener (UI Extension) background checks—the program requires information on substantiated reports of criminal behavior on the public record. There is no legal basis for the ‘right to volunteer’ and hence no clear basis to challenge this practice, although the steering committee membership continued to find the rationale lacking for a general requirement of this sort (except as the project might bring volunteers in contact with children in educational programs).  Carol Leff reported checking on Master Gardener programs in other states and finding similar background check requirements.

b)      Jakobsson bill for "motion to dismiss in the interests of justice"—Barbara Kessel circulated a hand-out that offered an outline of the issue in bullet-point  form and the language of the bill, which is based on an existing New York Statute and is designed to correct the verdict in cases where, for example, the clear evidence of a convicted defendant’s innocence is uncovered after trial. The measure is in part designed to prevent the prosecutor from blocking access to redress after conviction. Diana Lenik noted, from her standpoint as a practicing attorney, that the law is likely to have the effect of increasing demand for the use of this statute on appeal even where it doesn’t really apply.  It was suggested that further research (perhaps by the law school chapter) and consultation with Ed Yohnka was needed on the efficacy of the remedy proposed, although the Jakobsson bill has already been submitted.

c)       Rights of demonstrators event—we agreed to contact the Law School chapter on the possibility of piggybacking on the law school program for the rights of protesters event.  No date yet.

d)      Newsletter articles and timing—article deadline February 18th.  There will be a memorial tribute to Hiram Paley written by Esther Patt in the newsletter.


  1. New Business

a)      Steering committee nominations and officers—in progress

b)      Annual awards—We discussed the three awards available and decided that it should not be mandatory to find a nominee for each award in every year if no clear-cut choice existed.  In the current year, we agreed to explore the possibility of awarding the Stone award for lifetime achievement in civil liberties to Steve Shoemaker, longtime director of the University YMCA and host of the local WILL public radio show Keeping the Faith.

c)       Mini-biographies for website for Stone, Chalmers, Norton were commissioned.

  1. Adjournment at 8:25.

Next meetings: 

March 1st, 3405 Siebel Center

April 1st, Annual Meeting at Milo’s

April 5th, 3405 Siebel Center

Membership Recruitment Training Saturday April 14th, at the I-Hotel

Alison (Allie) Carter of the Chicago office needs an RSVP for this